It's official - EastEnders is off the air. The final episode completed before lockdown halted production back in March aired on Tuesday 16th June, and with filming not yet resumed there's no official word as to when it will be back. Although, we do have classic episodes and a behind the scenes show, EastEnders: Secrets From the Square, taking the soaps place on the schedule.
As the pause is unplanned, the soap left us with several dangling plot threads we now may have to wait months to be resolved - and when we do return to Walford presumably there'll be some kind of time jump; so how the final doof-doofs will eventually be resolved is anyone's guess.
So the speculation starts now as to what's in store for the storylines now temporarily frozen in time. Hopefully, we won't be in suspense for too long. Here's a reminder of everything we can think of that has been left up in the air.
What will Phil do next?
If 'Enders had chosen to cap what is effectively now a 35-year-long 'season one', putting a battle for the precious Queen Victoria pub at the centre would have been a great way to leave fans on the edge of their seats. And what a final scene it was as Phil Mitchell looked on in shock as he realised that Ian Beale and Sharon Watts were the new owners. The real question now is, how will Phil react and what will he do when the show returns. We think Ian should be very worried about his safety at the hands of his long-time enemy...
Will Whitney go to prison?
Thanks to the EastEnders episode reduction, stories are lasting a lot longer than originally intended with Whitney Dean's court case for the murder of Leo still on the horizon. Viewers will remember that Leo died back in February and the story has had numerous twists and turns since then. But as for Whitney's eventual fate, we are going to have to keep waiting for the day we see her take the stand in court. Will she be allowed to walk free?
Will Ben get his hearing back?
We won't lie, we feared an agonising summer wondering if he was dead when Ben collapsed, but the tortured gangster appeared to get a happy ending when doctors told him he'd be able to have the operation to help restore his hearing loss and that his burst eardrum will heal. Surely it's not that simple, though - writers love piling misery on poor old Ben but for now, things appear optimistic. Could there be complications when he has the procedure in a heartbreaking twist?
Will Karen stay with Billy?
Never mind Sharongate, Karen-gate is the love triangle that's got us wondering which fella will be chosen by one of Walford's feistiest women. Billy and Mitch went full Hugh Grant and Colin Firth in Bridget Jones's Diary as the battle to win Ms Taylor's affections got physical. Bill has had enough of his girlfriend's ex lording it over him how he's the love her life and given Kaz an ultimatum - but who will she choose? Will we fast forward to Karen in a wedding dress come September as she prepares to tie the knot with one of the men?
Does Ian kill Dotty?
The on/off blackmail has been going round in circles but we ended with slimy Ian Beale looking like he had the upper hand over dastardly Dotty Cotton. She still insists she's ready to expose his part in Denny Rickman's death to Sharon, but the businessman called her bluff once again. Someone has to crack at some point, and if Shaz knew the truth it would change things between the lifelong friends forever. We're wondering just how far Ian is prepared to go to silence Dotty…
Is Bobby plotting revenge on Peter?
Talking of Dotty, she's caused a rift between Ian's sons, Beale brothers Bobby and Peter. Bob is playing down his hurt at Peter kissing his Cotton crush, but we don't buy it - the last time the lad disagreed with a sibling they ended up dead. Bobby's slow-burn anger issues have never really gone away, is their rivalry over Dotty set to simmer to the point of another murder in EastEnders' original family?
Will Sonia find her dad?
This was a curveball that we found genuinely intriguing - feeling lonely since daughter Bex moved on, Son started an online search for Terry Cant, her long-lost father. Sonia is the only one of Carol Jackson's many kids to have never met their father (even Robbie tracked down deadbeat dad Gary Bolton once), and the thought of discovering something new about a character we've known for nearly 30 years is full of possibilities. Who is Terry? Why was he never around? And will Sonia regret trying to find him?
Could Ruby's be shut down?
The Square's local night club will probably be shut down anyway when the soap returns if they're to realistically portray what's going on in the hospitality sector, but after Dotty's drug bust this week Rubes may have had her licence taken away off air by the cops for drug dealing occurring on the premises- especially if they find out Ms Allen turned a blind eye to it… Could this be setting up a feud between the two women?
Has Gray driven Chantelle into Kheerat's arms?
There's bags of potential with the domestic abuse storyline in the context of a lockdown, but after Gray's refusal to believe his wife isn't cheating on him with Kheerat Panesar we reckon he's all but pushed her into infidelity with her old school mate. Is that too predictable? Maybe sadistic Gray decides to bed Whitney Dean, after all, thinking it will teach Chan a lesson? There are so many directions this story could go and we cannot wait to find out which one they choose.
Do Keegan and Tiff break up?
Say it ain't so! But we left the teenage sweethearts they were still very much at odds and Tiff's patience is wearing understandably thin. Listen to you dad, Keegs, and don't let your girl go. Is it too late for the pair to save their short-lived marriage? And will Keegan even stay on Albert Square to give them a chance?
Can anyone save Jean?
She wasn't on screen for the last few episodes, but we are still very worried about Jean Slater. Last seen living alone having chucked Kush and the clan out for messing with her meds, her bipolar is spiralling out of control and she started to imagine dead lover Daniel was still alive. Fast forward a few months and we shudder to think how bad things have got. Will she get the professional, and emotional support she needs but keeps pushing away? And if there is a lockdown, what will months alone have done to her?
Will Martin and Ruby have an affair?
Frankly, if they don't then we want our money back - a fling between these two has had more signposting than the M25, and we feel passion was about to ignite had it not been for the pandemic's impact on production. They've been there before, but the thought of them being a proper couple is pretty exciting - especially with Stacey's return on the horizon later this year (fingers crossed).
Is Ian double-crossing Max?
Blink and you missed it, but all this guff about Ian making Max sign over his share of the restaurant to him while his and Rainie's divorce goes through to stop her fleecing him seemed very suspicious. There's never been any love lost between Beale and Branning, and we wouldn't be surprised if it was just a sneaky way for entrepreneurial Ian to wrestle sole control of his business; it was only a verbal agreement, after all. Ian's dicing with death, though, seeing as the last time they fell out Max tried to strangle him with a set of fairy lights.
Will Rainie and Stuart get married?
We were looking forward to the Square's misfits tying the knot and getting a happy ending, so how long will we have to wait to see the wedding now? Both characters have evolved from being dangerous, disturbed antagonists to light relief with their unexpectedly sweet romance that went some way to redeeming them both. But no big day is planned in soap without some drama occurring. Maybe we'll see Stu's horrid dad Jonno again?
Will Jay find out Lola cheated?
Just when underused Lola was on the verge of a big storyline, it's taken away from us! Any day now it felt like Jay Brown was set to find out his beloved lover had done the dirty with old flame Peter, and now we'll have to wait to see how this all pans out. Would Jay forgive and forget? And who does Lo really belong with?